Kids' Best Friend
All the kids knew. If their bike was broken — a flat tire, a loose chain — then all they had to do was take it to the firehouse and see Kevin M. O'Rourke. He would dig his tool kit out of his locker, where the other firefighters had taped up a sign saying "Kevin's Bike Shop," and he'd fix it. And while the kids were there, he invariably taught them fire safety. He would unroll a rug and demonstrate how to do the stop, drop and roll technique for when one's clothes caught fire.
Firefighter O'Rourke, 44, lived with his wife, Maryann, and their daughters, Corinne, 20, and Jamie, 17, in Hewlett, N.Y. Each year, his family and his wife's family would converge for a ski trip and a golf outing.
He also was a regular in the annual firefighter ski races at Hunter Mountain. There would be five-man teams, and they would be in their jackets and helmets and have to cling to a fire hose and swoop down the mountain. There were innumerable teams, but one year Firefighter O'Rourke's came in fifth, and it made him very proud.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 31, 2001.